Gov. Green releases $500K for Da Bux Double-Up Program
Gov. Josh Green has released $500,000 for the DA BUX Double-Up Program, which doubles recipients’ purchasing power for locally grown produce, using their federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
Da Bux program launched in 2017 and is administered by the Hawai‘i Food Basket, Inc. in partnership with the Hawai‘i Good Food Alliance. The Food Basket estimates that every dollar spent in the program contributes $2.10 to the local economy.
“High food costs hit individuals and families who are food-insecure much harder, and this program provides support for heathier food choices for better long-term health and wellness,” said Gov. Green. “This program helps families make the most of their food dollars and in the process, keeps federal SNAP funds circulating in our local economy.”
“The DA BUX program doubles the amount of benefits for SNAP recipients when they purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables,” said Sharon Hurd, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “Hawai‘i farmers also benefit from this program with added opportunities to increase their production.”
The program has received overwhelming support from state legislators, public health organizations and government agencies, social service advocates, farmers and agricultural associations, food retailers and Hawai‘i charitable foundations.
“We are pleased that Gov. Green allocated and released half a million dollars to support the production and access to local foods through this funding of the DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks Program,” said Murray Clay, president of Ulupono Initiative. “DA BUX is a triple-win solution for our communities as the program doubles the spending power of SNAP participants toward local produce, supports Hawai‘i farmers by expanding their markets, and keeps the money here in the state.”
More than 50 food retailers across the state participate in the program, including grocery stores, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture programs and other farm-direct retailers. The Food Basket surveys indicate that SNAP recipients have significantly increased their purchases of local fruits and vegetables since the program began.
With Hawai‘i’s cost of living topping the nation, the state’s local communities are forced to make difficult decisions paycheck to paycheck, which impacts their ability to purchase and consume food. This reality is compounded by rising inflation that has increased the overall cost of living. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hawai‘i’s cost of living (approximately $118,500) is 93.3% higher than the national average (approximately $61,300).
In addition, Hawai‘i imports 90% of its food and has food costs that are 91% higher than the national average. Local families spend roughly 16% of their household budget on food, which is the second-highest allocation of funds behind housing and significantly higher than the rest of the nation. In 2022, 12% of Hawaiʻi’s population received SNAP benefits, totaling a 9% increase from pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data further shows that prices for food at home (groceries) rose 22% between 2019 and 2022 on O‘ahu. All this further exacerbates the struggle local communities have in eating healthy, as lower priced fast food trumps nutritious options, thus creating long-term health ramifications across the state.
To learn more about the DA BUX program, go to: https://dabux.org/